Local soldiers to deploy for 'show of force' mission in Korea
As the first to go on a rotational "show of force" mission to Korea, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery (FA) packed up all its equipment and sent it overseas.
It was pre-planned that when their rotation there ended, the soldiers would leave behind their M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) howitzers and other equipment for the use of follow-on battalions. As part of the plan, they did not return to their previous home station at Fort Hood, Texas, but moved directly to Fort Sill to be with their parent organization, 75th FA Brigade.
"We came to Fort Sill with zero equipment. We basically spent this last 18 months getting new equipment to outfit us for this new rotation," explained Lt. Col. G. Damon Wells, commander of 2-20 FA.
At a ceremony here Wednesday, the command team of Wells and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Bowens performed the symbolic act of casing 2-20 FA's colors in preparation for the upcoming deployment to Camp Casey, Republic of Korea. Approximately 350 troops are going there on a nine-month rotation.
Wells said the soldiers will be falling in on their old equipment once they arrive. Three other Diamond Brigade battalions, the "Red Dragons" of 3rd Battalion, 13th FA; the "Mission Ready Battalion" (2nd Battalion, 18th FA), and currently, the "Deep Attack Battalion" (2nd Battalion, 4th FA), have been using it in the meantime.
"I'm curious to see how well they took care of my gear," Wells confessed. "If it's the gear we've got, I'm sure it's fine. We'll be okay."
2-20 FA has all-new launcher crews since its first rotation ended in mid-2016. Some 30 percent of the unit was on the first rotation and will be going back for the fifth.
"We've been through multiple field training exercises to qualify and certify MLRS crews, ammunition crews, the staff officers. We've done a lot of training, probably twice as much training as an MLRS unit normally does in preparation for this rotation," he said.
They've gone on two rotations to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. They've done Warfighter exercises. They've undergone an external evaluation here on Fort Sill.
"It was about three weeks of field exercises where we qualified all the way up to Table 18, which means the whole battalion got to shoot, which is rare in MLRS because it's such a heavy firepower weapon system," Wells said.